What Christian Leaders say about TOPIC
Dr. D. Stuart Briscoe (Pastor Emeritus – Elmbrook Church, Brookfield, WI)
Apart from the unfinished task of taking the gospel to huge numbers of unreached people I know of no more pressing challenge confronting the contemporary church than the need to equip thousands of church leaders in the developing world. Most of them have no formal training and even if it was available – which it isn’t in most places – they could neither afford it nor avail themselves of it. TOPIC recognizes this great need and is doing a remarkable job of making non- formal training available to many leaders around the world. I enthusiastically endorse, support and participate in this vital ministry.”
Rev. Gary Edmonds (Churches Together, World Evangelical Alliance)
“It is very encouraging to see TOPIC’s work and the collaborative relationships developed in India, Africa, Asia and Latin America. You are a great model of how to work with and through national church leaders.
At WEA, we are committed to helping ministry with skilled leaders work in conjunction with local pastors in order to strengthen the church in societies and nations around the globe. It is my observation and conviction that ultimately the local church is the sustaining instrument for spiritual and social transformation in communities throughout the world. The more effective we are in fostering partnerships that work with and through the local church, the more rapid the Gospel will spread to the ends of the earth. I am very grateful for TOPIC’s wonderful cooperative spirit and strategic work. It is my prayer that God may continue to give TOPIC favor and blessing in the days to come.”
Dr. Chris R. de Wet (Africa Ministries Network (AFMIN))
“Any attempt to mobilize the Church in Africa for deserving projects such as evangelism, church planting, community development, the struggle against HIV/AIDS etc., will in the long-term yield a poor harvest because of an untrained workforce. In its vision to train pastors, TOPIC is committed to preventing this from happening.”
Dave & Cathy Hicks (AlongSideAsia)
Our trip to the Philippines came just after the devastating public disclosure of Ted Haggard’s double life and moral failure. That made our rediscovery of the antidote to pastoral and missionary fallout – in the fellowship of fifty pastoral couples from all parts of the Philippines, a variety of denominations and non-denominations – so refreshing. Cathy captures well what we saw, heard and tasted at the TOPIC (Training of Pastors International Coalition) Core 300 National Consultation at the Caliraya Retreat Centre two hours south of Manila, Nov. 14-16, 2006. TOPIC in the Philippines is the Pastoral training arm of the Philippine National Association of Evangelicals.
“In the Philippines TOPIC started in the late 90s and has been growing well from the inside out. Philip Flores, the former Philippine National Director of the Navigators is TOPIC’s National Coordinator. His TOPIC leadership team includes Herman Muldez, the former leader of the Philippines InterVarsity and who, we discovered, is a good friend of Gary Franklin, our former pastor. The leadership team is convinced that husbands must be properly connected with their wives because of what they’ve personally gone through in ministry hierarchies themselves. Value driven, these fellows trusted the Lord to provide for the cost of the conference facilities, half of the travel money for all the pastors, as well as half of the travel expenses to bring the wives with their husbands. They are out to encourage and train the wives as well!! Oh, hats off to these men!!
“As we traveled there we were not completely sure why the Lord was sending us. If we hadn’t committed earlier when we had to purchase our air tickets, we probably would have backed out as our schedule jammed up. In a conversational way, we walked through our personal narrative on marriage and ministry, in probably 25 minutes and discovered that many were crying through their laughter. Our struggles proved to be similar to those of these leaders and their wives. The Lord managed to open a can of worms tactfully in a safe environment where honesty was expected and no one was humiliated. How utterly amazing and wonderful!
“This fledgling group is all about mentoring young pastors, most of them pioneering in isolated areas with little wider church connection, although some are neglected within denominational systems. Most of these pastors have had limited formal theological training. TOPIC is already organized in 12 regions and has an aggressive plan to set up core groups in the remaining four regions of the country. There are currently 252 core pastors in the association. Those pastors are mentoring other pastors in their localities. They aren’t into top-down control or even top-down teaching. They are into empowering relationships! They are modeling how to instruct, nurture, disciple, protect each other regardless of denomination. They lovingly hold each other accountable in humility, integrity, and unity. They are FOR each other 100 %. This is a most phenomenal thing and what we were longing and feebly desiring to see at Bethany.
“So what we’ve dreamed of in terms of community – we finally experienced in the Philippines. We’ve witnessed what appears to be a genuine new wineskin that is capable of holding the New Fresh Wine of the Spirit. This is the way the Lord has intended the cells of His Body to function together! How to catch all that we’ve seen in words is most difficult. But I can tell you that our hearts are full and satisfied. This is the New Thing we’ve known was brewing in the Lord’s heart. I had almost despaired of ever tasting it before heaven!! Ah, the beautiful Body of Christ. I love the remnant that is so desperate for Him!! And I think that’s really why we went. Being with them was hope rekindled. We’ve experienced this for years in small numbers but I had almost despaired of seeing a life-giving organization that truly supports the Life of the Body!! These Filipino brothers are miles ahead of us in true biblical community in Christ. I’m forever thankful the Lord managed to get us there!
Dr. Richard Howell (EFI- The Evangelical Fellowship of India)
“The 21st Century presents us with an enormous challenge. The Church of our Lord Jesus Christ is growing all over India-not just in pockets. We see similarities between the 19th-cntury missionary movements in south India and the 21st-century missionary movement in north India. One major difference is that in the 19th-century, Western missionaries did the church planting. Here, local people are doing it, in partnership with Christians from all over the world. That is the truly encouraging news. This growth has not come without opposition. Wherever the Church is growing, Christians are facing persecution. Still, they are finding effective ways to spread the message of Christ, demonstrating His love in often extraordinary ways. The great challenge before us is: How are we going to equip the thousands of faithful servants of God, who are shepherding the emerging churches of our land? Since it is so difficult for them to relocate themselves, how can we take high-quality training to them? We welcome the efforts of TOPIC-India to equip pastoral leaders, grassroots evangelists and church planters – right where they are and in their heart language.”
Dr. Samuel Kamaleson (World Vision International, and one of the founders of the Friends Missionary Prayer Band, Chennai, Tamil Nadu, India
“Pastors are the most neglected ‘professionals.’ Within the present context of our world, pastors of the ‘two-thirds’ world’ are the custodians who have the disciplining responsibility of the large numbers of new believers that are entering the church all over the world. They need the discipline of training brought to them, where they are planted and called by their Lord. They are keenly open to the spiritual renewal that the Lord of the Church brings to them when they gather across the impractical traditional barriers existing between. And they need the refreshment that a change in the environment brings to them even within their own national context. TOPIC is committed to bringing these ‘blessings’ to the large growing numbers of pastors of our present day world. I am one of the many well-wishers of TOPIC.”
Rev. Doug Nichols (ACTION International Ministries)
“It is an honor for ACTION to be a partner ministry with TOPIC – to come alongside, assist, help, encourage, and train needy pastors in Africa, Asia and Latin America for the glory of God. ACTION is a small mission of about 160 missionaries mainly in ministry to the poor, with several team members working in ministry to needy pastors in training and leadership seminars, conferences and providing books to assist pastors in their study, teaching and preaching of the Word of God. Many of these pastors eat only one meal a day and receive as little as $9 monthly support. Praise God for TOPIC and its concern to train and assist needy pastors around the world!”
Dr. Paul E. Pierson (School of World Mission, Fuller Theological Seminary, Pasadena, CA USA)
“Christ’s church and mission is expanding throughout the world today to an extent never seen before in history. This growth is taking place primarily in Asia, Africa, and Latin America. By some estimates, 150,000 persons each day are becoming followers of Christ. Throughout history, God has led His servants to form new mission structures to meet new needs. The Trainers of Pastors International Coalition (TOPIC), is one of those innovative structures, of which we are thrilled to be part.”
Dr. John Richard (ACTION Int’l Ministries, Dallas, TX)
“Church Growth is great. May God continue to enlarge the family of Christ on earth day by day! We do want the earth to hear His voice and ‘many sons and daughters’ brought to His glory. But then Church Growth has to be buttressed by Church Health. Short of that, the newly planted churches will likely become a breeding ground for unbiblical doctrines. Indeed this is happening in certain places. Hence the dire need for Christians, who have the roots of their being, firmly and deeply grounded in Christ. TOPIC is an endeavor to bring together Trainers so that they, in turn, can train the brand new under-shepherds as to how to feed their flock and present every person mature in Christ.”
Dr. David Shibley (Global Advance (Dallas, Texas) and author of several missions books)
“The thrilling proliferation of churches in the Southern Hemisphere and other developing nations is one of the most hopeful signs of our times for world evangelization. Yet these growing churches and their leaders remain desperate for training that will equip them to reap the largest possible harvest and become a missions force to neighboring unreached peoples. Consequently, the effective training and resourcing of pastoral leaders in developing nations is pivotal for the fulfilling of the Great Commission. Few ministries could be more strategic for our day than TOPIC. I’m convinced that a coalition of ministries assisting leaders on the very front lines of the Church’s global expansion was born first in God’s heart. It is an idea in missions whose time has come.”
Dr. Geoff Tunnicliffe (WEA)
The World Evangelical Alliance (WEA) announced TOPIC (Trainers of Pastors International Coalition) as its new Global Partner to work closely together for their common commitment to the pastoral ministry. Dr. Geoff Tunnicliffe, the head of WEA, warmly welcomed TOPIC and explained the meaning that this new partnership holds.
“The local church is God’s instrument of transformation in a community,” said Dr. Tunnicliffe. “Obviously, pastors are the key in helping churches fulfill this vision. Training is needed but often times not available. That is why I am thrilled that TOPIC has become a global partner of WEA. Their creative delivery for training is made available to thousands of pastors who would not otherwise receive the equipping they need. It is my hope our deeper partnership with TOPIC will help WEA in its desire to more effectively serve the three million local churches in our global network.” TOPIC is an international coalition of pastoral training where the Church is growing. This is achieved by equipping and increasing the effectiveness of trainers of pastoral leaders and building the capacity of pastoral training ministries.
Global Partner membership is given to international organizations that specialize in a field that contributes to the WEA’s mission and objectives. There are currently nine other Global Partners serving the WEA constituency.